The Mumbai Press Club on Sunday expressed “shock and dismay” over the closure of dailies, the Mumbai Mirror and Pune Mirror, and urged the Times Group to reconsider its decision to stop publishing the newspapers and “keep a good thing going”.

The press body also urged the media group to ensure there was no retrenchment, and the jobs of all employees – journalists and non-journalists – associated with the newspapers were safeguarded.

The Bennett, Coleman and Company Limited, commonly known as The Times Group, on Saturday announced that it will stop the publication of Mumbai Mirror and Pune Mirror in an attempt to recuperate from losses suffered due to the coronavirus-induced economic crisis. A statement circulated by the company said Pune Mirror will shut entirely, while the Mumbai Mirror will be converted into a weekly.

In a statement released on Sunday, the Mumbai Press Club, which represents over 2,000 journalists of the city, noted that the Times Group had made no indication on the future of the employees of these dailies. Their sudden closure, it said, would adversely affect more than 150 journalist and non-journalist jobs in Mumbai and Pune.

The Bennett, Coleman and Company Limited is the largest and most profitable media house in the country with annual revenues of $1.5 billion, and an average of over 30% returns on investment in previous years, the press body noted. “For a small saving, it is not correct for the company to sacrifice such a powerful city brand and the jobs of so many employees,” it said.

The press club noted that all businesses had their ups and downs, and that the company should reconsider its decision. “If you have made good profits, then there are times when you must ride out the losses too,” it said. “We urge BCCL [Benett, Coleman Company] to review its decision of closure and keep a good thing going.”

The Mumbai Press Club also expressed deep concern that the decision of The Times Group was in violation of the law. The press association said that under Sections 25(O) and 25(F) of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 prior permission of the government is required before departments and companies are closed, and employees retrenched. But in the case of the Mirror dailies, no such permission was sought or taken, it said.

“Moreover, ‘Mirror’ is a sister concern of the BCCL, and we demand that all the employees of these publications be accommodated in jobs and positions within the organization on the same terms,” the press body added. “This is not the time to put employees on the street, and the BCCL must show its leadership by doing business with a human face.”

The press body added:

“‘Mirror’, launched 15 years ago, filled the niche vacated by an earlier Times Group paper ‘Evening News of India’. In a few years it became part of the urban landscape covering Mumbai’s and Pune’s city-centric angst and problems, as well as its celebrities and entertainment hotspots. Mirror’s popularity made it a big brand; and the advertising it brought in proved its worth in terms of the profit it reaped for the company.” 

— Mumbai Press Club

Following the announcement that the two dailies would shut down, several social media users expressed their admiration for the newspapers.